THE KARGIL FUND Set up by The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika
More than a hundred soldiers have already died in the undeclared war in Kargil. Many more are lying injured in hospitals. No assistance is compensation enough for the mother who has lost her son or the wife her husband. But we, the citizens of this country, need to help, in however small a way. The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika are setting up a fund with that modest aim in mind. The fund is being started with an intial contribution of Rs 5 Lakh from the ABP Group. If every reader of The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika donates a small sum, we can raise a huge amount for the families of the soldiers killed or injured in action. As a token of appreciation, both papers will publish the names of donors contributing Rs 500 or more. This is a time to ask yourself what can you do for the nation.   Only account payee cheques and drafts - payable to 'ABP Kargil Fund' - will be accepted. Put the cheque/draft in an envelope with your name and address. Write 'ABP Kargil Fund' and mail it to or deliver (between 10 am and 6 pm except on Sundays) at  
ABP LTD 
6 Prafulla Sarkar Street 
Calcutta 700001 
India
 
 
 
Bloodbath stains peace hopes
US dismisses Pakistan pullout pre-conditions
Captain?s mate arrives, dead
10 killed in lamp factory blaze
Parishad violence rocks Assembly
Calcutta weather

 
 
BLOODBATH STAINS PEACE HOPES 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, July 8: 
Four days after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised peace, India today said the undeclared war had escalated with intruders counter-attacking positions they lost earlier this week.

??I will call it a spurt on the Pakistani side with our jawans facing even tougher resistance,?? army spokesman Col Bikram Singh said.

Defying Sharif?s pledge to withdraw from Kargil, the Mujahideen continue to cling to the occupied heights. Col Singh said the militants were getting reinforcements from Pakistan and raiding re-captured peaks.

The army spokesman said 120 regulars ? 38 Indian soldiers and 92 Pakistanis ? had been killed in the past two days.

The military establishment believes that with its forces pushing hard, a desperate Pakistan army is now bent on defending the territory the intruders still occupy. The enemy is counter-attacking several positions in Drass where Indians have only just regained control.

Heavy Pakistani bombardment continued on Tiger Hill, which the army won over the weekend. ??From the nature of these fresh assaults, we can say that the regulars are new arrivals who are yet to lose their zeal for mortal combat,?? Col Singh said.

New Delhi maintained there has been no change in the ground situation despite Sharif?s commitment. ??We are concentrating on our military operations. We are in the process of evicting the intruders,?? foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal said.

Troops reclaimed two more peaks in Batalik, which helped clear a couple of ridgelines in the region north of Kargil. But the intruders are still entrenched along one more ridgeline.

India said a Pakistani soldier captured from Batalik had ?revealed? that no ?so-called Mujahideen? was involved in Kargil. Naik Niyat Ali of 5 Northern Light Infantry said Pakistani army personnel had been asked to ?operate in civil dress? and his entire battalion was ?deployed in the intrusion?.

A day after snatching back Jubar Hill, infantry from the 11 Gorkha Rifles today removed the intruders from the neighbouring Point 5287. Almost at the same time, a battalion of the Bihar regiment threw out intruders from Point 4927. Fourteen guerrillas were killed in the twin operations.

The peaks, both higher than Jubar Hill, will help Indian artillerymen once they mount guns.

With the two ridgelines cleared, the government opened the Srinagar-Leh Road to civilian traffic. But it is still not safe as the infiltrators continue to occupy points from where they can deliver telling blows.

Troops cleared the western spur rolling away from Tiger Hill early this morning, paving the way for soldiers to move towards the supply line close to the Lake of Fairies not far from the hill top.

The Sikh regiment led the charge in which 14 men, including three junior commissioned officers, died. Seventeen enemy soldiers were also killed. The retreating intruders left behind seven bodies in a pit.

The North Bump, another major hill feature in Drass, was won back by the Naga Regiment last night. Fifteen infiltrators died in the operation, one of them an army officer ? Capt. Imtiaz of 60 Field Regiment. But India also suffered heavy casualties. Capt. Prem Raj of the Regiment of Artillery died in the campaign. Ten soldiers of the Naga Regiment were also killed.

Close to the Tiger Hill top, where the enemy had launched a counter-attack, the intruders raided Twin Bump and Point 4875, peaks recaptured by India less than a week ago. But they were repulsed by the Jat Regiment and Jammu and Kashmir Rifles. At least 46 enemy personnel are believed to have died in this operation. Among the Indians killed were Capt. Vikram Batra of the J&K Rifles and Capt. Anuj Nayyar of the Jat Regiment. Eleven other Indian infantrymen also died.

The air force said it carried out precision strikes on a supply camp 2.5 km west of Tiger Hill around 2 am today. This camp had come up recently with tents pitched over the past few days. Indian jets had destroyed a similar encampment there a few days ago. But the intruders are returning.

The Indian toll has risen sharply to 327, with 23 officers among those dead. But Delhi claimed Pakistan has lost 634 regulars.    


 
 
US DISMISSES PAKISTAN PULLOUT PRE-CONDITIONS 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, July 8: 
Pakistan is running out of options on the promised pullout, with the US rejecting its claim that Islamabad has no control over the intruders and making it clear that there can be no link between Kargil and Siachen.

Pakistani foreign minister Sartaj Aziz said yesterday that the withdrawal of intruders from Kargil may not be possible unless India agrees to vacate Siachen. He added that the Pakistan government did not control the Mujahideen and there was no guarantee they would heed its appeal to pull out of Kargil unless they were promised major concessions on the Kashmir issue.

A US official in Washington today pointed out that the intruders depend on the Pakistan army for transport, food and ammunition and said the military generals in Rawalpindi can order or ?advise? them to withdraw. He added that talks between US President Bill Clinton and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last weekend were Kargil-specific and ?anything else has to wait till the Indo-Pak dialogue?.

Though India is happy with the US stand, which vindicates its position that the withdrawal of intruders cannot be linked with Siachen, it expects the Clinton administration to give Sharif a few days? time before he starts implementing the pullout.

Sharif returned to Pakistan today amid tight security in the face of protests by militant organisations and hardliners against the ?sellout? of the Kashmiri cause to the US. Immediately on return, he was closeted with senior army officials and members of his Cabinet. Pakistan army chief Pervez Musharraf and Sartaj Aziz were among those present at the meeting. Sharif will address the nation on Saturday.

US state department spokesman James Foley told reporters in Washington yesterday: ?Our information in terms of what is happening on the ground is that fighting continues along the Line of Control in Kargil.?

Commenting on the opposition to the withdrawal in Pakistan, Foley said: ?We believe that Prime Minister Sharif is committed to an early resolution of this crisis, and that means restoration of the LoC and return to the Lahore process.?

?That is the way, in our view, to go forward and to get beyond this crisis with its dangers of escalation,? he said. ?Let us remember that what we support here is not anything that is against the interest of Pakistan, or against the interest of India. We believe it is fundamentally against the interest of both parties for this crisis to continue with its attendant risk of escalation.?    


 
 
CAPTAIN?S MATE ARRIVES, DEAD 
 
 
FROM SANKARSHAN THAKUR
 
Mushkoh Valley, July 8: 
The captain had been waiting two hours for his young mate at the forward infantry base but he was nowhere to be seen.

The war zone is no place to play truant on appointments but then the captain?s friend wasn?t running late for any fault of his own. He was dead ? killed in the fighting for a peak in Mushkoh?s upper reaches ? and his body was being carried down the embattled ridges.

The captain was there to collect the cask and send it home. ?He was a good friend and sent to Mushkoh only two days ago,? the captain said. ?This place looks like it is going to be quite a killing field.?

Behind him, the underground field dispensary was choking up with wounded jawans. In an adjoining bunker, the dead were being stacked on canvas stretchers. But right across, fresh detachments of troops were getting ready to leave for the battleground, some taking what would probably be their last bath in weeks, in the Mushkoh river.

With the Drass sector nearly cleared of enemy occupation, the scramble for supremacy is gathering momentum. Artillery units are moving out of Drass and repositioning for back-up fire over Mushkoh. And in the rugged valley itself, infantry platoons are beginning to mount what they hope would be final assaults.

?We cannot give you a timeframe for operations,? said the major commanding the core unit in the Mushkoh Valley, ?but I can tell you we are gaining quickly.?

Over yesterday and today, Mushkoh has seen some of the fiercest fighting in upper Kashmir in recent days.

Indian troops made lightning raids on enemy positions in the higher reaches and earned their first major successes in the sector: Peak 4875, a key height, was taken last night and this afternoon, just as we were talking to troops back from battle, a field phone call brought news of the recapture of an adjoining hilltop called Pimple II.

Impromptu celebrations broke out in the major?s little tent, the soldiers embracing each other and running out to inform the unit at large. The combat for 4875 had been hard and proceeded from bunker to bunker on the sheer ridges. Often, adversaries were so close on the heights that they were hitting each other with rocks rather than spend ammunition.

The Indian commanders said we have killed 70 intruders during the operation for Point 4875, most of them Pakistani armed regulars.

But with the good news came its inevitable shadow: The bad news. Indian casualties on the heights were heavy too ? 15 killed and 10 wounded according to initial reports. And even the seriously injured were having to walk down the tricky slopes. ??Mushkoh Valley is one of the areas where we cannot use helicopters for evacuating casualties,?? the major said. ??The enemy is too close and too widely distributed on the peaks for low air sorties.?? One wounded soldier we met ? Subedar Narendra Singh ? had walked down six hours from the battlefront with a bullet lodged in his thigh.

Mushkoh has more problems than just the rash of enemy incursions into myriad groves and niches of the valley and its adjoining heights. For a start, the operation had to be launched from the middle of nowhere. Mushkoh is a remote cul de sac. The nearest approachable road head to the valley is Drass, 15-odd km to the southeast. Nothing leads to Mushkoh but a winding rubble on which must slowly trudge all supplies, men and equipment. ??There aren?t any settlements here so even drinking water has to be carted all of the way not to speak of all else,?? said a supplies soldier.

But there is a still bigger problem than logistics: location. Mushkoh is open as a plantain leaf and is consequently exposed to enemy fire, which is frequent. At a higher post we travelled to late this afternoon, four jawans were killed yesterday in a single shell-burst from across.

??Our clearing is too narrow and too open, often when the fire comes there is no place to run,?? said a young officer commanding front troops. More than half the thin ledge on the slope was taken up by a stable for mules, the lifeline for troops fighting on the front. The soldiers were all camped in ragged tents pitched on boulders.

If the occupation of heights over Drass allowed the enemy to disrupt the national highway, sway over Mushkoh probably has twin advantages for him. In addition to dominating the highways from some peaks, like Point 4875, which has now been reclaimed, Mushkoh also provided easy passage into Sonmarg and the Kashmir Valley itself; several nullahs leading over from Mushkoh end in the vicinity of Sonmarg.

It is an infiltrators? paradise. ??This is perhaps as crucial a battle as any other and perhaps more, because the concentration of the enemy here is very high,?? the young officer said.

As dusk drew close, the new assault party saddled and loaded its mules and set off for the heights. They must reconnoitre by night and fight by night and day on peaks they must take before the winter sets in. Of course, the commanding officer would not give us a timeframe but nature has already decreed it: before the snows begin to fall. On our way back we saw the captain again. He was still waiting for the arrival of his departed mate.    


 
 
10 KILLED IN LAMP FACTORY BLAZE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 8: 
A huge fireball erupted from a kerosene burner and rolled through an illegal lamp factory today, killing 10 workers and injuring three on Rajarhat Road in Baguiati.

?I suddenly heard a roar. As I turned around, I saw the other room turn into a ball of fire. Thick, black smoke engulfed us... I could not see... could not breathe... floating in a sea of pain, I felt I was hurtling down the stairs,? said 23-year-old Prabir Bera, who was working in the room next to the one where the fire broke out.

Prabir, of Deulti, Howrah, is one of the four workers released after first aid at R.G. Kar Hospital. But as he spoke, lying on his stomach at the Baguiati police outpost, one could see his back covered with blisters and the raw flesh showing through.

Eyewitnesses said the fire broke out at around 9.15 am and raced through the 10 ft by 7 ft, third-floor room. Some said that a metal container, filled with nearly 50 litres of kerosene and standing near the burner, was responsible for the fireball which engulfed workers busy making metal lamp caps.

Samir Bera from Deulti and Puran Kumar Sharma and Kishan Kumar Viswakarma ? both from Patna ? were the three others released from R.G. Kar. Their backs, too, were seared and blistered. The other workers came from nearby places like Gourangapur and Jagatpur.

Rabin Maity, who succumbed to his burns in NRS Hospital, had been trapped in the fire. He shouted for help through a window grille. ?We saw the man staring at us... his face was burnt and his hair scorched... He was crying for water, he was crying for help,? said Chandan Bhattacharya, a local resident. Two of the workers jumped down and landed unhurt on a heap of sand.

Twisted metal littered the gutted floor. Wooden door-frames and beams of the ceiling had turned into charcoal. The fire ? put out after nearly an hour ? had bent iron machines and gnarled aluminium table tops. Among the dead were seven women, including a 12-year-old girl, said Praveen Kumar, ASP Barasat.

?We suspect the kerosene burner is the primary cause, but the compressor used to turn kerosene into gas could have been responsible too. We will get to know after forensic experts have finished their job,? he said. The bodies were sent to Barasat Hospital for post mortem.

Home (police) minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya ordered the arrest of the factory owner for flouting safety norms. The police arrested Chandan Dasgupta, owner of the unfinished building at B/8/1 Rajarhat Road. His wife, Jharna, who owned the factory, has also been held. The police are looking for Swapan Dasgupta, who owns another lamp factory in the area.    


 
 
PARISHAD VIOLENCE ROCKS ASSEMBLY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, July 8: 
The Assembly today witnessed near-violent scenes when slogan-chanting Chhatra Parishad supporters sneaked into the House and got into a scuffle with the treasury bench legislators and security staff, prompting the Speaker to order their imprisonment.

Exercising his ?inherent constitutional powers? Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim charged 21 Parishad supporters with terrorising the House with premeditated violence and sent them to Alipore Central Jail after sentencing them to three days? simple imprisonment. The Parishad supporters were protesting the state?s decision to withdraw higher secondary courses from 39 colleges.

Before the Speaker passed his verdict, the Parishad supporters faced a quick trial in the House. Treasury bench and Opposition legislators argued their fate.

?I could have regarded what they did as subversive activity and sentenced them for a month. However, I gave them a light sentence as they are students who are repentant now,? Halim said.

Today?s incident was reminis-cent of 1983 when Tapas Roy, now a Congress legislator, then a key Parishad functionary, and his associates had stormed the House and suffered similar imprisonment. Halim had delivered the sentence. Soon after the verdict, the Congress announced that it would boycott the Assembly for three days in a show of solidarity for their students? wing.

?We don?t support what they did. But we support their demand. As for the punishment, it is very harsh. After all they are young and apt to be emotional, impulsive. They did not merit the sentence,? said Congress chief whip Abdul Mannan.

Trouble began around 3 pm, when nearly 50 Parishad activists stormed the Assembly in five cars. Most did not even have the valid passes, but managed to drive in through the gate near the Netaji Indoor Stadium as the securitymen did not check the three cars.

Splitting at this point, the other cars made their way to the Assembly through the gate near the high court. Here, too, the policemen did not stop them. The supporters then gathered at the main entrance and, chanting Vande Mataram and Chhatra Parishad zindabad, forced their way into the Speaker?s lobby.

Inside, Forward Bloc?s Mo-hammed Hannan was delivering his address in the discussion on the panchayat budget, when the protestors stormed in, stunning the legislators. Deputy speaker Anil Mukherjee, in the chair then, adjourned the House and asked the securitymen to throw the protestors out. Several legislators from the treasury bench also joined the chase which led to a scuffle that injured a Parishad activist.

The police arrested 21 activists and kept them on the Assembly premises. The house resumed again at 3.40 pm, but adjourned again for half-an-hour as Halim ordered a trial in the House itself. Upon resumption at 4.10 pm, the marshal presented the arrested in the dock. The police have ordered a probe into the security lapses.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Today?s forecast: Partly cloudy sky. Possibility of rain in some parts.

Temperature: Maximum 33.8?C (2?C above normal)
Minimum 26.4?C (Normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 94%
Minimum 62%

Rainfall: Trace

Sunset: 6.22 pm
Sunrise: 5.01 am
 

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